In a matter of weeks, we’ll have an election. And rarely have elections had consequences on a comparable scale of magnitude.
That’s why as Christians we need to rise to the occasion.
You see, our ability to help shape our collective future is something that has been denied to most people who have ever lived. Which is why as free citizens in a liberal democracy our responsibilities are so great. As are our opportunities.
Yet surprisingly, the role of Christians in politics is hotly contested. Many Christians have succumbed to the dangerous dichotomy of a ‘secular–sacred’ divide. They naively think that involvement in the political process is ‘worldly’ and well below the ‘spiritual’ calling of those who are genuinely heavenly-minded.
Others are trapped in an end-times mentality and think it simply doesn’t matter. As prisoners of a defective theology, they think, “It’s all going to burn anyway!” so why bother? Since Jesus is returning soon (a dubious assertion at best), they’re more focused on an envisioned Rapture than on the rupture in our nation that they’re witnessing before their very eyes.
Still others believe their vote doesn’t matter. Although that’s easily disproved historically, illusions die hard, and ignorance and apathy these days are sadly epidemic. Compounding the problem is the increasing insistence by secularists that people of faith set aside their beliefs before even entering the public square.
That’s why if we’re to “think and live Christianly,” we need to think and act Christianly in the public square. And why Frank Beckwith’s book, Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft, is a timely read for all American Christians.
In Politics for Christians, Beckwith thoughtfully raises and responds to important questions like:
● What role should religious citizens take in a liberal democracy?
● What is the proper separation of church and state?
● What place should be made for natural rights and moral law within a secular state?
Sadly, the answers from many Christians to these questions is “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure.” Most would be hard-pressed to define ‘natural rights’ and ‘moral law,’ revealing a knowledge deficit that makes our witness in the public sphere problematic. Beckwith hits the proverbial nail on the head when he speaks to the misguided assumption that just because our beliefs are religious or biblical, that should be an argument-stopper for secularists. He writes,
“It seems, then, that there is little justification for believing that as long as we can convince our peers that a view is or may be ‘religious,’ we are relieved of our epistemic duty to rationally assess that view as a serious contender to the deliverances of so-called secular reason.”
As just one case in point, scholarly pro-choice advocates in the abortion debates claim that the notion that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception is the result of “speculative metaphysics” or “religious reasoning” (i.e., ‘irrational’ to the secular mind), and for that reason warrants no serious consideration in public policy. While I’ve enclosed a sheet with excerpts from Politics for Christians, permit me to revisit the notion of securing our blessings. You might recognize the source: the preamble to our Constitution:
“…to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” (emphasis added).
What have some of those blessings of liberty been? To name only a few:
● Our ability to freely worship as Christians
● Our ability to participate in the election process and to make our voices and our values heard
● Our ability to elect and remove public officials has kept our government accountable and has functioned as a critical safeguard against tyrants and despots
● Our ability to actively contest the mindless radical and nihilistic agendas that would surely prevail if the influence of people of faith becomes too diluted or marginalized
With increasingly militant attacks and restrictions on our liberties as Christians, the penalties for ignorance and inaction in this arena will only grow more severe. That’s why I’d like to send you — for yourself or as a gift to a friend or loved one — Politics for Christians.
In our work together to equip fellow believers to ‘think and act Christianly,’ it’s clearer than ever before that we can’t exempt the public sphere or political arena from our infl uence. And we dare not neglect the opportunities we have to shape the public sphere with the salt and light of our Christian witness.
For the difference your partnership makes 24/7 in all of CRI’s mind-shaping and life-changing outreaches — and for the difference your vote can make to a nation of still free people in this momentous election — I’m grateful!
…because Truth matters, and Life matters more,
P.S. As the eminent English man of letters, Dr. Samuel Johnson, insightfully put it, “We continue every day to show by new proofs that no people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.”
The alarming images of rioting, looting, and rampant destruction from Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and Minneapolis on our TV screens are recurring reminders of the sobering reality of this important truth. And of the truth that vices advance in the public sphere only as virtues retreat.
They also remind us that human flourishing is not possible when chaos reigns, and why those who fail to “vote the virtues” of our faith should brace themselves for the alternatives.’